In­di­ans’ streak per­fect primer for post­sea­son

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - SPORTS - Chip Malafronte Sun­day Gravy Chip Malafronte, the Regis­ter sports colum­nist, can be reached at cmalafronte@nhreg­is­ter. com. Fol­low Chip on Twit­ter @ChipMalafronte.

For a team that fell just short of win­ning a World Se­ries cham­pi­onship last sea­son, the Cleve­land In­di­ans’ 22-game win streak may have been the per­fect primer for the loom­ing post­sea­son.

When I was nine and play­ing Lit­tle League, the only statis­tic of which I was aware was whether we’d won or lost the game. It didn’t oc­cur to me un­til years later that I could track my own bat­ting av­er­age.

So it was a bit of a sur­prise when in the mo­ments af­ter his fall ball game on Satur­day morn­ing the boy asked me to cal­cu­late his wins-above re­place­ment value.

If you’re not in the loop on base­ball’s new-age saber­met­rics, you’re not alone. I can barely ex­plain what WAR means and have no idea how it’s de­ter­mined.

Per­haps I can en­tice the lit­tle man to put to­gether a Pow­erPoint pre­sen­ta­tion for our ben­e­fit.

On the flip side, our team won Satur­day’s game in walk-off fash­ion. Only no one walked off the field or cel­e­brated or had any re­ac­tion of any kind when the win­ning run scored. That’s be­cause nei­ther team re­al­ized the game had ended. They’d all lost track of the score.

Walk­ing into the dugout to pro­claim, “OK, guys, the game’s over. We won!” is one of the joys of coach­ing Lit­tle League. Although there’s surely been a few oc­ca­sions this sea­son when Terry Collins has had to do the same thing for the Mets.

• There was an added el­e­ment to the Cleve­land In­di­ans in­cred­i­ble 22game win streak, which ended Fri­day night. For a team that fell just short of win­ning a World Se­ries cham­pi­onship, and has to be con­sid­ered the fa­vorites this Oc­to­ber, it may have been the per­fect primer for the loom­ing post­sea­son.

Out­wardly, the In­di­ans did their best to down­play the streak. Their emo­tions and per­son­nel choices made it clear they took great pride in what was hap­pen­ing, play­ing each night to win in hopes of break­ing the all-time record of 26, de­spite hold­ing a mas­sive lead in the AL Cen­tral.

You can count Or­ange’s Chris An­tonetti, the team’s pres­i­dent of base­ball op­er­a­tions, among those in the or­ga­ni­za­tion who be­lieves the ex­pe­ri­ence was in­valu­able.

“Most of these guys have been through the cru­cible,” An­tonetti told Sports Il­lus­trated af­ter Fri­day’s loss to the Roy­als. “But for the other ones, there’s some­thing to cre­at­ing that en­vi­ron­ment.”

• Eli Man­ning is 36 years old. Without Odell Beck­ham Jr. in the lineup, he might as well be 72.

• The In­di­ans streak may only rate as the sec­ond-long­est in MLB his­tory — the 1916 Giants won 26 in a row — but we’ll rate it as the most im­pres­sive, if only be­cause ev­ery one of the Giants’ wins came at home. Travel was a bit dif­fer­ent back then, and the en­tirety of the Giants’ streak came dur­ing a 31-game home stand at the Polo Grounds.

The In­di­ans streak be­gan in Cleve­land, in­cluded road sweeps in New York, Detroit and Chicago be­fore a re­turn to Cleve­land. All told, the In­di­ans’ run, which be­gan Aug. 24, to­taled 11 wins at home and 11 on the road.

• Is there any way to dis­tin­guish be­tween an NFL side­line re­porter and a pub­lic­ity agent? The sym­pa­thetic report from the face­less an­nouncer on the side­lines about Ben­gals run­ning back Joe Mixon over­com­ing neg­a­tive public per­cep­tion — which, by the way, stems from video of Mixon punch­ing a woman in the face while a stu­dent at Ok­la­homa — could have been straight from the fall se­mes­ter syl­labus of Pro­pa­ganda 101.

• At­ten­dance is down at many NFL sta­di­ums, which shouldn’t come as a sur­prise. Ev­ery­one knows it’s a has­sle to bat­tle traf­fic in and out of games. It’s ridicu­lously ex­pen­sive. And it’s a dull sport to watch live, at least at the NFL level. Know what they do at the sta­dium dur­ing those end­less TV com­mer­cial breaks? Noth­ing.

Fans at NFL sta­di­ums spend in­fin­itely more time mon­i­tor­ing their fan­tasy foot­ball teams on their phones than watch­ing the game they’re ac­tu­ally at, though I sup­pose you could use that ar­gu­ment to dis­par­age any­thing. I’ve lost track of my kid for hours on end while track­ing fan­tasy stats.

• Even watch­ing the NFL from the com­fort of your liv­ing room has be­come ex­haust­ing. Not only are there end­less com­mer­cials, but those ads are ex­cru­ci­at­ing.

There’s the bearded hip­ster brag­ging to a group of other bearded hip­sters about Chevy’s plethora of JD Power awards, like any­one has the first clue what a JD Power award is or means.

How about the preg­nant lady in la­bor get­ting out of bed to put the foot­ball game on TV? A Tex­ans game, no less. Quite be­liev­able.

Even the truly funny ones, like Pey­ton Man­ning and Brad Pais­ley for Na­tion­wide, are played so of­ten it be­comes like nails on a chalk­board.

• The best sport to watch live is hockey. Specif­i­cally, col­lege hockey. Even bet­ter if the game’s at Yale or Quin­nip­iac. Pep bands, chant­ing stu­dent sec­tions and nightly packed houses on the edge of their seats for 60 min­utes are the norm.

Next best is bas­ket­ball (al­ways loud). Then base­ball (per­fect for sum­mer drink­ing.)

Then col­lege foot­ball (much lower if Bob Di­aco is coach­ing in any ca­pac­ity.)

Then high school foot­ball (much higher if An­thony Sag­nella is coach­ing.)

Then boxing (un­less it’s a sham bout in­volv­ing Floyd May­weather and an MMA fighter.)

Then horse rac­ing (only if you’re bet­ting. And dou­ble-fist­ing mint juleps in a sear sucker suit.)

Then jai alai (when Bo­li­var was ac­tive, this ranked much higher. Those who went to Mil­ford Jai-Alai in the 1980s know what I’m talk­ing about.)

Some­where down the list is the NFL.

DAVID DERMER - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The In­di­ans’ Jay Bruce, cen­ter, cel­e­brates with team­mates af­ter Bruce drove in the win­ning run in the 10th in­ning Thurs­day in Cleve­land. The In­di­ans won 3-2 for their 22nd straight win.

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